Another part of the Fighting the Impostor process for me is this one: Watch your language.
I’ve been doing this. Well, working on this.
There are phrases that put me into Impostor mode: “not that good”. It’s nothing.” “It’s okay.”
It’s me talking myself down when I’ve accomplished something, when I’ve done something. I do someone a favor, and I just say “It’s okay.” It’s not humility – it’s embarassment. Because I really, honestly, truly inside me believe that it wasn’t that important, it wasn’t that helpful, it wasn’t really worth someone giving me credit for it. And there’s people – like me – who really do believe this. We honestly think, deep inside, that what we did was just… nothing. We could have done it better. We could have done it faster. We could have done it some other way that wasn’t such a mess.
We look at our accomplishments and we see our flaws. And when someone complements what we did, we go straight for the flaws in it and try to say “don’t you see how badly we screwed that up?” But instead we catch ourselves, because we can’t confess that in their face, can we?
I’m not even good at admitting how much of a screwup I am. So I just seem humble and pass it off. I say “It’s nothing.” Because it me, it’s not. Not enough, not worth the trouble, not worth the complement, not worth the attention from other people.
“I should have done better.” That’s one of the most pernicious ones. And it doesn’t even have to be said out loud. I say it inside my head and it still gets to me. It eats at my self-belief. It chews on it and thinks it’s tasty.
This is what gets me. I start to hear my voice, and it’s what I think. And then it starts to wear grooves in my brain, running lines in there, and it gets stuck in there. And it wears groves in my brain. And it wears me down. It leaves wounds. And scars.
And this is what language does to you. And why you need to watch it when you talk to yourself, and to others.
If someone says “That’s great!” You say “thank you”. You don’t make excuses. You accept it. One complement at a time, you accept it. And you do it one at a time until the habit is to accept instead of shove it off.
Humility is good. But using it to slam yourself down and tell yourself you don’t deserve things is NOT.
That’s one more thing for me to work on.